China guide head planning

Planning a trip through China?

For a pretty solid trip in China, based on seeing the major sights, using air or train travel, with private cars and guides, but not factoring jet lag (add a day to arrival city if coming from North America or Europe), I recommend the following as an outline of the major cities to visit:

(in order
of priority)
Min. #
Hotel
Nights
Min. #
Days
Travel
Days
Beijing 3-4 4-5 1
Xi’an
TerraCotta
1 1 2 (in/out)
Shanghai 1-2 2-3 1
Zhouzhuang
Water Town
0 1 drive
Li River
Boat
1 2 2 (in/out)
Guilin
Chengdu
Pandas
2 3 2 (in/out)
Chengdu
Hangzhou 1 1 train
Yangtse Cruise 4
(on boat)
5 2 (in/out)
Chongqing/
Yichang

The above includes a little bit of shopping and relax time, but not much. If you want leisurely pace, add a day in the major stops.

A reminder also, most international flights will arrive in either Beijing or Shanghai airports, so it’s likely one of those will be your first city. Ideally, (but not if you are using a 72 hour transit visa) book your return exit from China from the other city, avoiding another another day and another flight domestically to return you to your starting city.

Recommended Sightseeing Route
China Sightseeing

You can do your own research into details about what to see and do, however, I often given advise to those coming to China to hire a local guide/driver in each city, and try and not miss at least the following.